Arlington is once again publicly seeking developers to bring a convention-class hotel to the entertainment district.
The city expects to post a request for proposals on its website in the coming days to flush out developers interested in building an upscale hotel on public land near the Arlington Convention Center and possibly take over convention center operations, City Manager Trey Yelverton said.
City officials say an expanded convention center and new hotel could help land larger meetings and conventions. And it could entice out-of-town visitors who are going to events at the stadiums or theme parks to stay in hotels in Arlington — instead of in Dallas, Fort Worth or Grapevine — which would bring in more tax revenue.
Arlington has been seeking such a deal since at least 2008, but a past search and subsequent one-on-one negotiations didn’t pan out, Yelverton said.
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“We’ve been in a holding pattern for a while,” he said.
Proposals will be accepted through January.
Arlington has “a lot of very good leisure-travel hotels” but not enough of the upscale hotel space ideal for accommodating major events at the convention center and nearby AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park in Arlington.
“What we know and we’ve known for some time is we’re not capturing the full amount of economic impact we could based on our inventory. The good news is, our cup is full. If we had a bigger cup, our bigger cup would be full,” Yelverton said. “It would be nice to have hotel infrastructure that mirrors the quality and size of events that go on in the entertainment district.”
A deal would likely involve financial incentives from the city, as well as a contract to operate the convention center.
The Arlington Convention Center has lost business because of its limited meeting and exhibit space and a shortage of entertainment and hotel options for convention visitors, city officials have said.
“The goal is to not only build a first-class convention hotel but also add significant meeting and convention space that will complement our current convention center and create a greater overall impact on tourism,” said Ronnie Price, chief executive officer of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Mayor Robert Cluck said he believes the city could lure additional major events if higher-end accommodations were within walking distance of the entertainment district. That could mean not only more tax revenue but also more opportunities for hotel guests to shop and dine at Arlington businesses.
“We have roughly 8 million people a year who come to Arlington to experience football or baseball or other events. We are a tourist city. That number is continuing to grow,” Cluck said.
“When people come to a major event, our hotels fill up immediately. We don’t have nearly enough. That is why people stay elsewhere. We would much rather those people stay here.”
A few years ago, Arlington declined to move forward on a $115 million plan by Highgate Holdings to expand the Sheraton hotel by 300 rooms and add 53,000 square feet of exhibit space, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a 900-space parking garage for the convention center.
Plano-based Urbana Varro recently bought the Sheraton from Highgate Hotels, which spent $15 million renovating the 19-story hotel in 2008.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.